Hakuba Goryu as viewed from the Happo summit offers a gold medal view for skiers and snowboarders. (Photo: Andrew Kehoe)

Happo-one Winter Resort

Olympic-sized fun at one of the top mountains in Japan

Hakuba Goryu as viewed from the Happo summit offers a gold medal view for skiers and snowboarders. (Photo: Andrew Kehoe)
Andrew Kehoe   - 3 min read

Happo-one (pronounced "happo-oh-neh") is considered to be one of top 5 ski and snowboard resorts in all of Japan. Standing proud in the center of the Hakuba area, Happo-one was once the sight of the 1998 Olympic alpine downhill ski events and the ski jump. The view from the top is a nice added benefit to the world class boarding and skiing. On a clear day at roughly 1,800 meters (6,000 ft.) you can see the tops of the clouds and a full panorama of the beautiful surrounding mountains. Also, you should be able to easily see nearby Hakuba Goryu.

The weather, particularly at the peak can be a little unstable and windy but a little extra snow never hurt anyone. Keep an eye out for lift closures on the top half of the mountain if the weather is particularly rugged that day.

If you like variety in your skiing or boarding than Happo-one is the right choice. From massive moguls (bumps in the snow) to off piste (off the designated ski trails) and on, from extremely long intermediate runs to the nice and easy winding traverse are all runs available on the mountain. There are also many back country expeditions that leave from the peak, so if that is your thing, check around at the main gondola station for information.

The mountain itself is not lacking in amenities either, with a restaurant at the peak and excellent little coffee shop outside the Alpine quad and some of the best ramen at 1,000 meters in the main lounge off the gondola, its also reasonably priced. No one should ever confuse ski resort food prices with good prices but your lunch bill wont break the bank like some resorts in the US, Europe or Australia will. Also at the gondola station is a board shop and a repair shop for on-mountain issues.

Three different lifts at the base of Happo-one offer walking access from most of the hotels and ryokan in the Happo or Echoland area of Hakuba. The Phoenix Hotel is one such place located in easy access of some of the area's onsens and slopes. If you stay outside of those areas there is a free shuttle for skiers and snowboarders only, that picks up at various locations throughout the city. However, Hakuba is small enough that even in snowboard gear the walk from the Hakuba station to the Adam Gondola is only about a 25 to 30 minute walk. Get up early and catch the 7:30AM opening lift for the first untouched runs of the day.

Gear up, strap in, and shred some of the finest snow Japan has to offer.

Andrew Kehoe

Andrew Kehoe @andrew.kehoe

Andrew is the Co-owner and Co-Editor in Chief of easydistance.com which specializes in adventure stories, ESL teaching, cooking and arguing with his wife about syntax. “An easy distance, do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles.” “And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day’s...